City of Masks
I am pleased to invite you to a special activity, street photography in Venice, one of the most beautiful cities of the world: if you think it’s not enough, prepare yourself to attend at its famous Carnival rich of history!
This is a unique opportunity for taking pictures. We can spend an entire weekend: on Saturday we will visit the historic center of Padua (Padova), Basilica of St. Anthony, Cappella degli Scrovegni, Palazzo della Ragione, Prato della Valle, Battistero and other main places, while on Sunday we will go to Venice (only 40 km away), to experience the last Sunday of Carnival, the best to live and enjoy!
ABOUT THE CARNIVAL
The Carnival origin is attributed to Venetian oligarchies, who needed, as happened in ancient Rome ("panem et circenses", bread and circus), to give the population, especially the poorest, a period dedicated entirely to fun and festivities, during which the Venetians and foreigners are permitted to have parties in the city, with music and dance.
According to many interpretations, the word 'carnival' come from the Latin “carnem levare” ("to eliminate the meat"), as it indicated the banquet held on Fat Tuesday, just the day before the period of abstinence and fasting of Lent, ending at Easter.
The oldest document talking about Carnival is from Doge Vitale Falier (highest office of the Republic of Venice at that time), dated Protected content , where it is written about public entertainment. Through masks and costumes, which guaranteed anonymity, a sort of leveling of all social divisions was got, and even the public derision of the authorities and the aristocracy was authorized. These concessions were widely tolerated and considered a providential outpouring for people tensions within the Republic of Venice, considering that, in normal life, the rulers placed strict limits on issues such as common morality and the public order of its citizens.
THE ANCIENT CARNIVAL
The first official document declaring the Venice Carnival is an edict of Protected content , when the Senate of the Republic declared the day before Quaresima (Lent), a public holiday.
Citizens who wear masks and costumes can completely hide their identity and thus cancel any form of personal belonging to social classes, sex, religions: everyone can establish attitudes and behaviors based on the costumes worn. The joyful and hidden participation in this rite of collective disguise was, and still is, the very essence of Carnival. A period of liberation from one's daily habits, in which everyone is part of a large masked stage, where actors and spectators merge into a large procession of figures and colors. With the ever more widespread use of disguises for the Carnival, a true and proper trade in masks and costumes was born and developed gradually in Venice. Starting from Protected content , there is news of production of masks, schools and techniques for their realization. One of the most common disguises in the ancient carnival, especially since the 18th century, also used in the modern carnival, is the “Baùta”. This typical Venetian figure, used by both men and women, consists of a white mask and completed by an enveloping dark cloak. The Baùta was worn extensively during the Carnival period, but also at the theater and when one wished to be free to woo or to be courted, mutually guaranteeing anonymity. During the Carnival, the activities of the Venetians passed into the background, and they gave much of their time to festivities, entertainment and shows that were set up throughout the city, especially in Piazza San Marco, along the Riva degli Schiavoni and in all major fields of Venice. There were all kinds of attractions: jugglers, acrobats, musicians, dancers, shows with animals and various other performances, which entertained a colorful audience of every age and social class, with the most imaginative and disparate costumes. In addition to the great events in open places, small performances and shows of all kinds soon spread in private houses, theaters and cafés in the city. Sumptuous Venetian palaces began to host great and long parties with sumptuous masked balls. In the 18th century the Venice Carnival reached its maximum splendor and international recognition, becoming prestigious throughout the Europe of the time, constituting a tourist attraction and a destination sought by thousands of visitors. One of the most known characters of that time, Giacomo Casanova, became famous for his notorious adventures. Venetian writer, he became famous as one of the greatest exponents of the libertine aspect of the Venice of that time. Still mentioned today for his reputation as a seducer, he created his myth by making his lifestyle unruliness, bringing scandal and liveliness wherever he went.
The Carnival gave impetus to a growing number of masked performances set up in the city's private theaters, financed by noble Venetian families, who entrusted the performances to great artists and true professionals of acting, initially reserved for a small audience of noble families. Following the great development and demand of this artistic genre, many other small theaters opened in Venice, also addressed to a popular audience. With the increase in the number and quality of the theater companies, now formed by professional artists and appreciated even outside the city, real activities developed related to the world of theatrical comedy, stage arts and artisanship of costumes and masks.
The definition of “Commedia dell'Arte” was born in Venice and dates back to Protected content , when the playwright and librettist Carlo Goldoni introduced him into his comedy “Il Teatro Comico”. After Serenissima’s fall (Venice Republic), which took place in Protected content the French occupation by Napoleon and later with that of Austria, the masks were forbidden, with the exception of those during private parties in palaces, for fear of rebellion from the population, quickly leading to the decline of the spirit that had animated this historic Carnival for centuries. Only on the major islands of the Venice Lagoon, such as Burano and Murano, the Carnival celebrations continued, albeit in a lower tone than in the past.
THE MODERN CARNIVAL
Only in Protected content , almost two centuries later, the centuries-old tradition of the Venice Carnival officially reborn, thanks to the initiative and commitment of some citizen associations and to the logistical and economic contribution of the city, “La Fenice” Theater, “Biennale di Venezia” and tourism organizations.
The current Venice Carnival has become a great and spectacular tourist event, which attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world who come to the city to participate in this festival considered unique for its history, atmosphere and masks.
HOW TO GET THERE
We will catch a high speed train to Padova, and on Sunday we’ll go to Venice by train too (for the latter solution, there are many regional trains, so we don’t need to book in advance). Protected content
Venice hotels are very busy and expensive during the Carnival, and it is better to avoid to let the luggage at Venice railway station, because we could find very long queues. These are the main reasons why we will sleep in a Padova’s hotel on Saturday, where we will let our luggage on Sunday morning, move by regional train to and from Venice, and on Sunday evening we will collect it, ready to go back to Milan by train.
I have booked a hotel in Padova city center: there are available rooms at the moment (with breakfast: single starting from 80 eur, double from 93 eur). Please contact me if you need more information about it.
Feel free to take part to the whole weekend, or only a part of it.
I invite you to buy your train tickets and book your hotel room as soon as possible, because Carnival is a very busy period for Venice and surroundings. Feel free to contact me for further information.
See you in Venice!
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